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I’ve been trapping leeches with success. Will the rest die this winter or do I need to continue next spring? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I’ve been trapping leeches with success. Will the rest die this winter or do I need to continue next spring?

Q: I’ve been trapping leeches with success. Will the rest die this winter or do I need to continue next spring?

Bernie – Muskegon, MI

A: Those little bloodsuckers sure steal the fun, don’t they?

Hitching a ride with waterfowl, amphibians, small mammals—even your muck boots—leeches love living in mucky debris at the bottom of your pond. They settle in and wait for worms, snails, insect larvae, small water-loving animals and even humans to cruise by. When something looks tasty, they’ll use their suction cup-like mouths and teeth to latch on and feed on their blood.

Leeches aren’t necessarily bad for your pond or lake—in fact, they’re an important part of the food web. But they can be a nuisance, particularly if you use it for swimming or water sports.

Death by Winter Frost

During the winter, leeches don’t die. They ball up and burrow in the mud just below the frost line, nice and cozy, where they hibernate through the cold temperatures. In the spring, they’ll return to their bloodsucking ways.

If temperatures fall below freezing where you live, one wintertime leech-control trick is to manipulate the water level in your pond. Drop the water level at least 4 feet after ice has started to form on the pond. This will freeze the leeches that were living in the shallow underwater mud. It’s an effective method, but it could also kill other aquatic life burrowed in the mud.

Controlling Leeches

Sure, they’re part of the ecosystem, but no one likes climbing onto the dock with their legs covered in leeches, right? There are several ways to trap and control those bloodsuckers.

  1. Capture them in tiny traps. Punch leech-size holes in a coffee or aluminum can with a lid, bait it with raw chicken or fish heads, and position it in a shallow area of your pond. When the leeches climb in for a meal, they can’t escape because their full bellies will prevent them from exiting. Remove the can once it’s full and repeat until the leeches are gone.
  2. Control them with leech-grubbing fish. Your finned friends will savor the protein-rich treats. Fall is the perfect time to add more fish to your pond—and leech control is a perfect excuse to boost your game fish population. Red-ear sunfish are particularly fond of leeches.
  3. Change the habitat. Because leeches live in the muck and detritus in the shallow areas of your pond or lake, keep up with weed maintenance so you’re not creating a hospitable habitat for them. Remove shoreline vegetation with weed removal tools, cut and rake out dead organic debris from the water and add aeration to help break down the muck.

Pond Talk: How do you control leeches in your lake?

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After getting out of my swimming pond, I had a leech on my leg! How do I remove leeches from my pond? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: After getting out of my swimming pond, I had a leech on my leg! How do I remove leeches from my pond?

Q: After getting out of my swimming pond, I had a leech on my leg! How do I remove leeches from my pond?

Dennis – Blythewood, SC

A: There’s nothing like climbing out of your pond and finding one (or more!) of these little blood suckers stuck to your leg. What are they, and how do you banish them from your pond?

Getting to Know Leeches

Leeches are 2-inch-long brownish-black segmented worms that are a distant cousin to the earthworm. They use their suction cup-like mouths and teeth to latch on to vertebrate and invertebrate animals, feeding on their blood. Of the 700 different leech species, the majority live in freshwater environments, like your swimming pond.

Leeches love to live in the debris at the bottom of your pond. In all that muck accumulation, they get comfortable, find food and hide from predators—also known as fish—swimming overhead.

Despite their bad reputation, leeches aren’t all bad. Up until the 18th and 19th centuries, these worms had been used medicinally on humans to improve and restore blood circulation. The practice waned for a time—likely a combination of the yuck factor and modern medicine—but it’s slowing coming back into favor.

Kicking Leeches to the Curb

Unless you practice leech therapy, you probably want to evict those invertebrates from your pond. The best way to do that is to remove their preferred habitat—all the muck and debris covering the bottom of your pond. How do you do that? Here’s a four-step approach:

  1. Pull Out the Debris: First, use a rake or cutter to remove weeds, accumulated debris, algae, decomposing plants and muck.
  2. Add Beneficial Bacteria: Next, add some beneficial bacteria, like those found in MuckAway™. The bacteria will head to the bottom of the pond and digest whatever muck remains. Remember that it will take some time to break down all that debris, so be patient.
  3. Let Your Fish Do the Work: With nowhere to hide, those leeches will become tasty meals for your fish. You may even consider adding some more leech-eating fish to your pond.
  4. Trap and Destroy: For those leeches that elude your finned friends, you can trap and remove them with a baited trap. Punch leech-size holes in a coffee or aluminum can, bait it with raw chicken or fish heads, and position it in a shallow area of your pond. When the worms go for the grub, they can get in but not out because the burrs from the hole punches will prevent them from escaping. Remove the can once it’s full and repeat until the leeches are gone.

If a leech latches onto you, don’t worry. In most cases, it won’t do any harm. In fact, you might not even feel it as the tiny critter injects the spot with anesthetic-anticoagulant combo while attaching itself with its suckers. You can remove a leech by breaking its suction seal with your fingernail or another blunt object, causing the worm to detach its jaws.

Pond Talk: Do you have any leech-removal tips to share?

Cut Through Tough Pond Weeds - The Pond Guy® 28 Inch Weed Cutter

I’ve been trapping leeches with success. Will the rest die this winter or do I need to continue next spring? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I’ve been trapping leeches with success. Will the rest die this winter or do I need to continue next spring?

Q: I’ve been trapping leeches with success. Will the rest die this winter or do I need to continue next spring?

Bernie – Muskegon, MI

A: Those little bloodsuckers sure steal the fun, don’t they?

Hitching a ride with waterfowl, amphibians, small mammals—even your muck boots—leeches love living in mucky debris at the bottom of your pond. They settle in and wait for worms, snails, insect larvae, small water-loving animals and even humans to cruise by. When something looks tasty, they’ll use their suction cup-like mouths and teeth to latch on and feed on their blood.

Leeches aren’t necessarily bad for your pond or lake—in fact, they’re an important part of the food web. But they can be a nuisance, particularly if you use it for swimming or water sports.

Death by Winter Frost

During the winter, leeches don’t die. They ball up and burrow in the mud just below the frost line, nice and cozy, where they hibernate through the cold temperatures. In the spring, they’ll return to their bloodsucking ways.

If temperatures fall below freezing where you live, one wintertime leech-control trick is to manipulate the water level in your pond. Drop the water level at least 4 feet after ice has started to form on the pond. This will freeze the leeches that were living in the shallow underwater mud. It’s an effective method, but it could also kill other aquatic life burrowed in the mud.

Controlling Leeches

Sure, they’re part of the ecosystem, but no one likes climbing onto the dock with their legs covered in leeches, right? There are several ways to trap and control those bloodsuckers.

  1. Capture them in tiny traps. Punch leech-size holes in a coffee or aluminum can with a lid, bait it with raw chicken or fish heads, and position it in a shallow area of your pond. When the leeches climb in for a meal, they can’t escape because their full bellies will prevent them from exiting. Remove the can once it’s full and repeat until the leeches are gone.
  2. Control them with leech-grubbing fish. Your finned friends will savor the protein-rich treats. Fall is the perfect time to add more fish to your pond—and leech control is a perfect excuse to boost your game fish population. Red-ear sunfish are particularly fond of leeches.
  3. Destroy their habitat. Because leeches live in the muck and detritus in the shallow areas of your pond or lake, keep up with weed maintenance so you’re not creating a hospitable habitat for them. Remove shoreline vegetation with weed removal tools, cut and rake out dead organic debris from the water and add natural bacteria to break down the muck.

Pond Talk: How do you control leeches in your lake?

Cut Through Tough Pond Weeds - The Pond Guy® 28” Weed Cutter

After getting out of my swimming pond, I had a leech on my leg! How do I remove leeches from my pond? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: After getting out of my swimming pond, I had a leech on my leg! How do I remove leeches from my pond?

Q: After getting out of my swimming pond, I had a leech on my leg! How do I remove leeches from my pond?

Dennis – Blythewood, SC

A: There’s nothing like climbing out of your pond and finding one (or more!) of these little blood suckers stuck to your leg. What are they, and how do you banish them from your pond?

Getting to Know Leeches

Leeches are 2-inch-long brownish-black segmented worms that are a distant cousin to the earthworm. They use their suction cup-like mouths and teeth to latch on to vertebrate and invertebrate animals, feeding on their blood. Of the 700 different leech species, the majority live in freshwater environments, like your swimming pond.

Leeches love to live in the debris at the bottom of your pond. In all that muck accumulation, they get comfortable, find food and hide from predators—also known as fish—swimming overhead.

Despite their bad reputation, leeches aren’t all bad. Up until the 18th and 19th centuries, these worms had been used medicinally on humans to improve and restore blood circulation. The practice waned for a time—likely a combination of the yuck factor and modern medicine—but it’s slowing coming back into favor. In fact, Emma Parker Bowles (daughter of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall) recently wrote about how leeches helped relieve her of debilitating migraines.

Kicking Leeches to the Curb

Unless you practice leech therapy, you probably want to evict those invertebrates from your pond. The best way to do that is to remove their preferred habitat—all the muck and debris covering the bottom of your pond. How do you do that? Here’s a four-step approach:

1. Pull Out the Debris: First, use a lake rake, like the Pond & Beach Rake, to remove weeds, accumulated debris, algae, decomposing plants and muck.

2. Add Beneficial Bacteria: Next, add some beneficial bacteria, like those found in MuckAway™. The bacteria will head to the bottom of the pond and digest whatever muck remains. Remember that it will take some time to break down all that debris, so be patient.

3. Let Your Fish Do the Work: With nowhere to hide, those leeches will become tasty meals for your fish. You may even consider adding some more leech-eating fish to your pond.

4. Trap and Destroy: For those leeches that elude your finned friends, you can trap and remove them with a baited trap. Punch leech-size holes in a coffee or aluminum can, bait it with raw chicken or fish heads, and position it in a shallow area of your pond. When the worms go for the grub, they can get in but not out because the burrs from the hole punches will prevent them from escaping. Remove the can once it’s full and repeat until the leeches are gone.

If a leech latches onto you, don’t worry. In most cases, it won’t do any harm. In fact, you might not even feel it as the tiny critter injects the spot with anesthetic-anticoagulant combo while attaching itself with its suckers. You can remove a leech by breaking its suction seal with your fingernail or another blunt object, causing the worm to detach its jaws.

Pond Talk: Do you have any leech-removal tips to share?

Reduce Mucky Pond & Lake Bottoms - Pond Logic® MuckAway™

My pond has leeches! How do I get rid of them? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: My pond has leeches! How do I get rid of them?

Tana – West Allis, WI

A: Leeches. They’re not for the squeamish. These little bloodsuckers – which are actually segmented worms related to earthworms – use their suction cup-like mouths and teeth to latch on to vertebrate and invertebrate animals, feeding on their blood.

The majority of leeches thrive in freshwater environments, though some species can be found on land and in the sea, too. Of the 700 different species of leeches, 100 are marine, 90 are terrestrial and the remaining 510 prefer habitats like your lake or pond.

One of the more common leeches found in North America is the Freshwater Leech or North American Leech. This brownish-green worm with black and red spots grows to about 2 inches long and lives in lakes, marshes and slow-moving streams.

Harmless – and Healthy

Historically, leeches have been used medicinally on humans to improve and restore blood circulation. The practice of leeching, or leech therapy, can be traced to India and Greece and has been done in both Europe and North America up until the 18th and 19th centuries. Though the practice waned for a time – likely a combination of the yuck factor and modern medicine – it’s slowing coming back into favor.

If a leech latches onto you, don’t worry. In most cases, it won’t do any harm. In fact, you might not even feel it as the tiny critter injects the spot with anesthetic-anticoagulant combo while attaching itself with its suckers. You can remove a leech by breaking its suction seal with your fingernail or another blunt object, causing the worm to detach its jaws.

Tiny Hitchhikers

The leeches in your pond have probably hitched a ride from visiting birds or plants that you’ve purchased and placed in your pond. Leeches will attach themselves to their host – like a duck or heron – and take in their fill of blood. Once they’re satiated, they’ll drop off and establish themselves in their new home. Leeches will also hide in plant roots and on the bottom of pots, and when you place them in your lake, they’ll happily move right in.

Fish Food

Fish love to gobble down leeches. A healthy fish population will, in most cases, keep leech numbers under control. Among game and lake fish, red ear sunfish do a great job of eating these worms. Other natural leech predators include turtles, crayfish and water fowl.

Prevention, Removal

Besides using your finned friends to control the leeches in your lake or pond, you can also try some of these recommendations:

•Control the muck on the bottom of your pond – which is where they lay their eggs and spend their off time – with a product like MuckAway™.
•Remove debris, cattails and phragmites from shallow areas of your pond.
•Add more leech-eating fish.
•Set a leech trap. Punch leech-size holes in a coffee or aluminum can, bait it with raw chicken and position it in a shallow area of your pond. When the worms go for the grub, they can get in – but not out. The burrs from the whole punch will prevent them from escaping. Remove the can once it’s full and repeat until the leeches are gone.

Pond Talk: What did you do the first time you found a leech locked onto your leg?

Pond Logic® MuckAway™ - Eliminate Muck Naturally

The geese are already showing up at my pond. How can I stop them from making my pond home? | Pond & Lakes Q&A

The geese are already showing up at my pond. How can I stop them from making my pond home?

The geese are already showing up at my pond. How can I stop them from making my pond home?

Tracey – Akron, OH

As the warmer weather rolls in you will begin to notice a gathering of geese around your pond. While ponds are great for drawing wildlife some pond owners are hesitant to let geese congregate in their yard. How can geese become a nuisance in your pond and what can you do to keep them away?

If you have ever been to a park that is frequented by geese you will notice that they tend to cover the entire ground with droppings. This abundance of waste is less than ideal for those of you that swim in your pond. The additional influx of organic waste can also cloud your water and promote increased weed and algae growth. Geese can also carry problematic items from neighboring ponds. Duckweed and leeches commonly hitch a ride on the feet of water foul like geese and ducks which are then introduced into your pond as they loiter in your yard.

To prevent your pond from becoming the local hot spot for geese this season try placing a pair of floating swan decoys in the water when the ice melts. As geese are extremely territorial they will spot the swan decoys as they fly overhead and skip over your pond as they search for a less-crowded water body. Coyotes, Alligators and motion activated decoys are also available forms of predator control if you are looking for alternative options.

Whether or not you should let geese use your pond depends on what you want to use your pond for. If you use your pond for recreation or decorative purposes it will be in your best interest to keep them away. If your pond exists for reasons outside of recreation and you enjoy the additional sights and sounds of geese in the summer then rest assured that your feathered friends will be relieved to see your decoy free pond.

Pond Talk: What form of predator control works best to keep geese out of your pond? What kind of issues have geese caused in your pond and how have you resolved them?

Swan Decoy

How can I control leeches in my pond? – Pond & Lake Q & A

How can I control leeches in my pond?

How can I control leeches in my pond? Allison – Empire, CO

Don’t Leech the Fun from Your Summer

Have you ever climbed out of your pond and found one of those blackish-brown creatures on you? Well it’s a sure fire way to scare the rest of your friends out of the water. So why do leeches decide to call your pond home and what can you do to make your pond leech free?

Leeches tend to use the accumulation of muck and debris at the bottom of your pond as a type of abode. Not only do they find food sources in the debris they also hide from predators that are passing by overhead. The best way to banish leeches from your pond is to remove this habitat. This can be accomplished by pulling out the debris you can reach using a Pond & Beach Rake and then adding MuckAway™ bacteria to digest whatever muck remains. With nowhere to hide the leeches will be picked off by your fish population.

Being the good neighbor that you are, you can help the leeches pack up and move out even faster by trapping and physically removing them. A fairly simple way to trap them is to poke a series of small holes or slits into a milk jug or coffee can. Line the bottom of the can with rocks to keep it weighted down and stable and bait the can with raw meat or fish heads. The leeches can enter the can via the holes you added, but the jagged edges prevent them from exiting. Some trappers utilize accordion folded plastic or thin metal with similar bait to pull up any leeches that find their way into the folds. Check your traps and refresh bait often! Also, keep in mind that leeches become less active as the water temperature drops so you may have better luck trapping them in shallower areas of than in the depths.

Take a look at our past Blog about leeches for some additional information and feedback from our followers. There is a helpful link that explains how to remove leeches safely as well as some user submitted tips and tricks on how to trap them.

POND TALK: If you have found a great way to trap leeches or maybe tried a method that didn’t work out too well please feel free to share it with everyone reading this blog.

Eliminate up to 5 inches of muck per year!